Bring More Good Stuff Into Your Life
The current wildfire smoke from Canada has me feeling a little nervous, irritable, and worried for us and for them. Please take a moment to send Canada supportive and positive thoughts to get things back to a controlled burn that’s manageable. If we cannot help in any other way, we can take action through our thoughts, which can be just as important.
Some of the feelings and thoughts about this current event, and how to feel better about it, seem to be worth sharing. I am noticing in myself that I feel like staying inside, away from the smoke. I also noticed not seeing other people, as well as not going outside, doesn’t feel very good in my body either.
As I sit here writing, I think about what could help me get through today. As a default, I seem to always go back to thinking about the ‘good stuff’ in my life to balance out the negative. It makes me smile to think about the ‘good stuff’ that really seems to make life, and me, feel immediately better
What is the Good Stuff? It’s something to look forward to. It’s a memory that lights you up and makes you smile. Something to bring some spark to the drudgery of daily routine. Something to bring some balance to the felt sense that I can smell smoke and my brain is mobilizing defensively yelling, ‘Danger! Danger!’
When I pause to reflect, I can think of many experiences that make me feel warm inside, proud of my accomplishments, and put some pep in my step for the next one. Bike riding, walking on the beach, playing soccer, rugby, swimming in the ocean, playing with my niece, surfing, having a date night, and going out with friends...the list goes on and on.
Not only do I like to do things by myself, but it’s also been worthwhile and built good character in me to learn how to recover from adversity and play well with others. Those who play together, stay together. Coregulation and safe sympathetic activation through play promote healthy attachment patterns and nervous system flexibility. Engaging others through movement is a sure way for them, and you, to feel more safe and grounded and learn more about yourself.
One of the things that happen for people, in my experience, is that once they can discover who they are through a ‘felt’ experience, doing something that moves their physical body helps them develop a sense of who they are. Some ‘good stuff’ thoughts from this process are: “I can handle it”; “That felt scary but I am ok”; “I stood up for myself”; “That sucked that we lost but we can try harder to win this time”; “I am worth loving”; “I am confident and feel good about myself”; “That made me really anxious but I made it !”.
Now onto offering you the opportunity to bring the good stuff into your life today.
Skill: Bring in the good stuff!
What it is: A meditation practice to help your nervous system change states towards ventral vagal calm, still and active, and curious.
Take a moment to lie or sit quietly. Breathe in, and then breathe out longer three times.
Bring your attention to the warmth and pressure under your body, focusing on it and breathing into it, gently inflating it with 3 more breaths, letting all the stress and irritation float into the background.
We will return to honor your other feelings in a moment. Bring all the awareness to this new calm, warm sensation underneath you.
Imagine in your body you have two cups: One full of stress and sensations that don't feel pleasant and the other one where warmth, smiles, and good memories live. I often use the image of a pet to awaken the sense of joy in my chest for my 'good cup’, having a go-to image and feeling makes this skill go faster for me. Often, I use my hands as the cups, resting them palm up on my legs.
Stay here focusing on the 'good hand' until you feel a shift inside your body, the feeling of warmth and calm getting more intense until it reaches a felt experience of 8/10 out of 10 in your body. Perhaps add tapping on one knee and then the other alternately to deepen this experience, breathing in and out at your own pace. If you are sitting you can also tap your feet.
You may notice that when you shift your attention from cup to cup, or hand to hand, you may perceive feeling more present and calm, perhaps even gaining more insight in problem-solving.
Just notice and breathe.
It may surprise you that you have control and power over how events affect you and how you handle them. There is an invitation to see yourself with compassion for the times when you may not have handled these events so well. Maybe let that float to the background as you shift to feeling the love and support of those around you, leading with the Self, who sees things with Loving or Soft eyes.
Breathe in and out longer three more times and close this meditation
Stay safe out there and send those healing thoughts to Canada and those in the world who need it.
The light in me sees and honors the light in you; offering respect, balance, and connectivity to all through love.
Feel free to email me and ask me a question: Jennifer@changeforyourlife.com
Jennifer Baker LPC RPT ACS
Jennifer has been working with children, adolescents, and families in a variety of settings such as schools, private practice, and community agencies for over a decade. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a Registered Play Therapist (RPT), an Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS), EMDR Certified, and a Consultant in EMDR.
She uses EMDR 1 & 2.0, Somatic Experiencing, Polyvagal Theory, the Safe & Sound Protocol, Flash Technique, Ego States, Play Therapy, Trauma-Informed Yoga, and other creative therapies in her mental health private practice.
She has taught both undergraduate and graduate classes at Monmouth University and NJCU, respectively. She writes a biweekly newsletter and would like to continue to provide training, support, and a sense of community for other therapists in the field so we can all grow toward providing inclusive, best practices for all communities.
She has served as a Board Member for: NJAPT (New Jersey Association of Play Therapy); Friends of MCCAC (Monmouth Child Advocacy Center); Play Therapy Consortium of New Jersey and served as President of NJACC 2022-2023.